October 25th, 2007
05:45 PM ET
8 years ago

Thompson: Iraqi insurgents 'a bunch of kids' with IEDs

Watch Thompson's comments Wednesday.

BLUFFTON, South Carolina (CNN) - At a campaign stop in South Carolina Wednesday, Fred Thompson said that the Iraqi insurgency is made up of "a bunch of kids with improvised explosive devices," and suggested that the appearance of losing to such an enemy would harm U.S. national security.

Thompson was confronted about Iraq by a Bluffton resident named Bernhard Steinhouse, who asked Thompson whether he would bring back U.S. forces from the country.

"We will not be a safer country, we will not be a safer America if the whole world watches us being defeated by a bunch of kids with improvised explosive devices," Thompson said.

Roadside bombs are one of the leading causes of U.S. casualties in Iraq.

Thompson's comments drew criticism from Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate and senator from Delaware who has made funding mine-resistant combat vehicles a signature of his Senate efforts over the last year.

"If Sen. Thompson believes that we are fighting 'a bunch of kids,' he is totally divorced from reality," Biden said in a statement Thursday. "He should come back to Iraq with me and talk to our soldiers who are in the middle of a civil war between lethal militias or fighting the Bush-fulfilling prophecy of al Qaeda in Iraq or being blown up by IEDs."

Thompson did not say under what circumstances troops would be able to leave Iraq. He said that as of now, U.S. forces are succeeding in securing the country, a shared sentiment among all of the Republican presidential frontrunners, mainly by Sen. John McCain. He noted that things could change.

"As of right now, and circumstances will be different six months from now, a year from now, but as of right now, we're finally getting good news out of there, we're getting good news," said Thompson, who added that having a U.S.
presence in Iraq is crucial to freezing out the influence of Iran and Iranian-linked Hezbollah.

"They sent General Petraeus down there for a reason," he said. "They shouldn't have sent him down there if it was just a matter of saying, 'OK, you're doing a lot better, but we're going to declare defeat and bring you home.' I don't think that makes us safer."

Thompson told Steinhouse "we didn't know what we were facing" when we went into Iraq.

"Saddam lured everybody into believing he had weapons of mass destruction, which he had had previously, no question about it, he had used them against his own people," Thompson said.

Earlier this month in Iowa, Thompson raised eyebrows by telling a crowd that Saddam "clearly had had WMD" and that "he clearly had had the beginnings of a nuclear program." He later clarified that he was referring to Saddam's use of chemical weapons against the Kurds.

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Fred Thompson • South Carolina
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. Jesse Las Vegas NV.

    Didn't Fred play the part of Mr. Cleaver on the Leave it to Beaver show?

    Fred should go back home to Mayberry, put on his house slippers and load his pipe again with whatever it is he's been smoking while his perfect wife prepares the perfect 1955's dinner.

    Grandpa Fred, pleeeeze. You're embarrassing yourself.

    October 25, 2007 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  2. Tom, Anaheim, CA

    His comments seem more like a smart aleck trying to be witty. Truth is they are soldiers trained to wage guerilla war. Making light of them degrades the American soldiers being killed every day. Lots of snipers kill and wound American soldiers. It takes alot of skill to pick off a man at 500 yards.

    To: Kim, Peabody MA
    Can you post the source for your statement, "These KIDS are being trained, supplied, financed, and provided logistics from IRAN."? My reading indicates this is speculation to a large degree unproven with concrete evidence.

    October 25, 2007 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  3. OIF Infantry soldier. FT. Wainwright AK

    I can not understand why this man is doing as well as he is for the GOP nomination. Using phrases like "were getting good news out of there" and they sent General Petraeus DOWN there for a reason". Honestly whats wrong with "we are getting good news out of Iraq" and "General Petraeus was sent OVER there for a reason". It sounds all to familiar. I served in Iraq and I am about to go back, if he thinks that we are fighting a bunch of kids I would be more than happy to let him come on patrol with me. See what he thinks about kicking in doors and being blasted by IEDS. Please America don't pick the same optionfor 08 as 04.

    October 25, 2007 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  4. Brian, Orlando, Florida

    wow! 2,400,000,000,000 on fighting kids????? What would the Republicans want to spend on fighting adults?


    October 25, 2007 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    LOL!!! GOP sure likes Hollywood when it serves it's purposes.

    October 25, 2007 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  6. Mike, Michigan

    These "Kids" are kicking our asses on their playground!

    October 25, 2007 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  7. Dan, Cambridge, MA

    All democratic candidates would wish Freddy gets the nomination!

    Too naive too simple.

    October 25, 2007 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  8. Jerry Walters

    He and his granddaughter need to exit stage left NOW!

    This guy is too arrogant, pious and self-enamored to lead a TV show let alone a nation.

    Go home dunce!

    Thompson is everything that is wrong with politics and especially republican politics in this day and age.

    October 25, 2007 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  9. Brandon, Tampa, FL

    I see Fred Thompson as the political version of the stereotypical old guy yelling at kids to get off his lawn. This just confirms it.

    October 25, 2007 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  10. Dave T, Sparta, NJ

    Leave poor Fred alone. When your as old as him, comparatively everyone is a "kid".

    October 25, 2007 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Mr. Thompson;

    A bunch of kids with IED's?
    You are an idiot.

    Glad you showed it before the election.

    Mrs. Carol Jellings
    Wife of Sgt. David Jellings
    Stationed at BIAP

    October 25, 2007 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  12. Scott, Houston TX

    Kim from Peabody MA has it wrong...These KIDS are being trained, supplied, financed, and provided logistics from Saudi Arabia, NOT Iran. So say the commanders in Iraq. When the idiots that lied and got us into this quagmire (and the idiots who support them) finish beating the bee hive, they'll also have finished alienating the entire world. What ever happened to the "war on terror?" "mission accomplished" is still the most shameful joke from the most embarassing administration in U.S. History.

    October 25, 2007 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  13. Brian P Lenac, Everett WA STATE

    Thompson said: "Saddam lured everybody into believing he had weapons of mass destruction." Am I really reading this?? Which chemical weapons, the ones we SOLD him to fight Iran with? What year is it–1984?

    Kim, I would submit that the Bush administration HAS read the Art of War, and understands it well. Those in PNAC and our current leaders may be chicken-hawks, but they are not stupid.

    These people were salivating over invading Iraq in order to occupy and divide the country years before 9-11 took place. That's not my opinion, it's documented history. The documents don't lie, though neo-cons do all the time.

    The secondary goal (my opinion this time) was to entice Iran into a confrontation in order to topple their government–round two since we already toppled their elected government once after WW2. Go google it, or go to the CIA website, they brag all about it there.

    Perhaps when thousands of our children are being drafted to fight the ground war in Iran, good Americans will being to realize how severely we have been duped, and quit defending these liars.

    October 25, 2007 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  14. Spence, Dallas Tx

    I'm missing the meaning of his observation. I think in general all soldiers are young.

    It seems like he forgot his script.

    Is Thompson's Observation indicative being on the dumb side?

    October 25, 2007 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  15. Charles Watson, Los Angeles, CA

    "Saddam lured everybody into believing he had weapons of mass destruction"? What is this guy talking about? Saddam Hussein gave weapons inspectors the run of the place so they could look for weapons of mass destruction – they didn't find any, remember? That's what the whole fuss is about.

    He's right on one thing – they are a bunch of kids with IEDs. Just like the Vietcong were a bunch of kids with booby traps, and our soldiers are a bunch of kids in helicopters and Humvees. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    October 26, 2007 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  16. Tim, El Cerrito CA

    I agree. What an idiot to just throw out a statement like that. What does it really even mean? This is the best they can do? Our poor Irag policy and invasion has been the best recruiting tool for the Islamic radicals. We're creating more enemies at a faster rate than we can kill them. Why don't the studid Repubs and their supporters get that. Because their stubborn and determined to think they are correct. I know the Dems have their own shortcomings but at least we can tell what a failed policy looks like. Billions for was and non for heathlcare...now that sounds like a solution if I ever heard on (snark). Give it up you right wing neocons. Go home and give someone else a chance because you guys ain't doin a very good job by any stretch of the imaginination!

    October 26, 2007 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  17. Steve, Portland, OR

    Being in my 50s now and of the Vietnam era, I see the list of our fallen US soldiers that have died in the line of duty in Iraq on PBS regularly. Many are 18-19 years old. "Just a bunch of kids" who died young for our senseless politicians of both parties who started this war with misinformation and now unaccountability.

    October 26, 2007 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  18. James, North Arlington, NJ

    I served in Iraq for 15 months......I would rather serve another 15 months than have another idiot like him in the whitehouse

    October 26, 2007 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  19. West Palm Beach, Fl.

    Maybe Thompson has a point when saying this if we can still remember Rush Limbaugh's comment concerning the conduct of some of our troops at the Abu Ghraib prison classifying that as "nothing more than is done with fraternity hazing in our colleges." I guess such comments mean this is the Iraqi version of playing "cowboy and indians."

    October 26, 2007 05:30 am at 5:30 am |
  20. Karen,nj

    I suppose he thinks that they are all a bunch of Dennis the Menaces. That man is a fool and has no idea how to run the American government. Even Law&Order probably won't take him back.

    October 26, 2007 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  21. Mike Brouwer, Ada, MI

    This guy is so out of touch. How can anybody take him seriously? Scary that some will ....

    October 26, 2007 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  22. Rob, Colorado Springs, CO

    Hmmm... this article is a lesson on what to do with truth you don't like. Actually, children are among the conscripts to islamofascism who are recruited for homicide bombing. Happens in Iraq, happens in Israel, and would happen here in the US given the chance. So what about Fred's comments was newsworthy? This is old news.

    October 26, 2007 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  23. Steve, Lyons, CO

    Geez, Freddie, go back to you wooden acting career. You're a complete moron, and not qualified to be a president.

    Of course, neither is George W. Useless.

    October 26, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  24. Brian , Toronto , Canada

    In my opinion , if a soldier can't
    decide to kill an enemy who is staging
    to fire a weapon or otherwise , that
    soldier should not be assigned to carry
    any rank or weapon that would involve
    killing. They are a risk to the
    entire unit and personify a possible
    weakness that can be exploited.

    Sympathetic soldiers have absolutely no
    place on the battlefield and are the
    cause of confusion about whether to take down an opponent who may be waving
    a white flag or appear to be too young
    to shoot.

    I will never forget the early invasion
    newsclip of the American soldiers who
    were ambushed by some white flag waving
    Iraqi's who immediately shot them at
    point blank range when they knew that
    their gaurd had been let down just a
    little bit at the moment it occurred.

    So , kids with any intent to fight US
    Troops should be dealt with as adults ,
    before they too kill us because of a
    misconception. These kids , have eyes
    that can see armed US Troops and they
    have lived amongst these conditions.

    I am , and always have been the type of
    man who would board a helicopter or
    whatever means of transport and never
    look back on what my purpose is. If
    a babysitter is your purpose , you will
    die a victim of abuse , now an easy
    tactic laid out for your perception.

    In other words , around me , you would
    be extremely lucky to live as any sort
    of prisoner , when my life is at stake
    in a war.

    Training one's self to use the tactics
    of survival is your best weapon. In a
    war , use it or die. Seeing as there
    has to be a debate over the matter ,
    our enemies have found a place to begin
    targeting. Intent is the key to making
    choices , if I even see wrong intent ,
    I would kill. And live to say why.

    You can't have a democracy if you die.

    October 27, 2007 04:29 am at 4:29 am |
  25. Germantown Wisconsin

    So a bunch of kids killed almost 4000 soldiers?Whay a disrespect for our troops. Romi.C

    October 27, 2007 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
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